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East - West routes in New England?

Old 07-05-21, 09:35 AM
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UniChris
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East - West routes in New England?

Are there any good east west cycling routes in New England, in terms of traffic proximity and keeping climb total/grade moderate? There seem to be lots of north/south choices but fewer east/west.
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The only thing that's seeming strongly plausible so far is following the CT coast along the sound.

Until the Mass Central rail trail is more complete Boston to western MA seems to have few good options. Up north someday the Lamoille Valley RT may be more than disjoint segments.

Some parts of MA 2 may be tolerable, other parts have famous hairpin climbs.

What about MA 9, or VT 9?

Anything in CT beside the shoreline?
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Old 07-05-21, 09:45 AM
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Biggest obstacles are the Green Mountains, which run N/S, as do the Berkshires in western Mass. And N NH and NW Maine, also hilly.

Maine about any road is good for cycling, there's not a ton of traffic once away from the towns

Southern NH also about all road OK, and there's a lot of them. Further north the Kancamagus Hwy,. is a very popular E/W route thru the southern Whites.

About everything in Vermont excepting Rt 7 in the west (southern end) and parts of Rt 4. Good E/W route across the mountains is Rt 140 & 103. Most 2 lane roads in Vermont are light traffic and good cycling.

Don't know much about Mass.
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Old 07-05-21, 03:52 PM
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MA Route 20 can be flat to rolling to hilly. See if you can find the Rubels bike maps for Mass. Some may be out of print.
Where exactly do you wan to start and end?
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Old 07-05-21, 05:41 PM
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The saying "You can't get there from Here", likely had to do with going east/west in New England. That being said, there are some decent roads. Rt 2 goes from Bangor, Me through NH and VT and ends in Rouses Pt NY, the far northwest border of VT and the Champlain Islands. Mostly 2 lane, somewhat busy in places, but nothing compared to southern New England/NY/NJ etc. Toughest climbs are through the White Mountains in NH but the roadway is good and climbs are long but not too steep. Rt 2 mostly avoids the Green Mountains in VT, goes through Montpelier and on to Burlington. Plenty of small towns along the way in all 3 states. Of course, lots of options to peel off and take even smaller roads.
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Old 07-05-21, 05:59 PM
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UniChris: May I ask what's wrong with the CT shoreline? I've done the whole thing from Port Chester, NY to Narragansett, RI and my tongue is hanging out for an opportunity to do it all again.

Would you be bicycling, or unicycling it? I am doing New London to Mystic (for the 20th + time) in a few weeks. That's always a good ride, the way I've tweaked it to include some pavement, some dirt, and some gravel.
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Old 07-05-21, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
UniChris: May I ask what's wrong with the CT shoreline?
Not necessarily anything, it's more the exception of being the one thing that seems seriously plausible, New Haven to New London is on my "might actually do it" list since there's cycle-friendly shoreline east train service to deploy or return and I already have past rides touching each of those points so it would forge a key connection on a cumulative heatmap.

Question was more if there are any inland possibilities that could also be worth doing.
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Old 07-06-21, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
...Question was more if there are any inland possibilities that could also be worth doing.​​​​​​
I don't know if this is the type of ride you're looking for, but I once used the 7-mile William C. O'NeilL Bikeway from Narragansett, RI to Kingston, RI as part of an inland route back to the New London Ferry. At the Kingstown AMTRAK station (the end of the bikeway), I took Fairgrounds Lane to Liberty Lane to South County Trail back to Rt. 1 for a quiet, country-like ride. Seven miles of bikeway probably isn't worth your time to head up there, but perhaps you might want to work it into an east-west route, Narragansett is a very cool place to END your ride, but if you prefer to go east to west, you can start there (have breakfast or lunch at Crazy Burger) and head toward Kingston. Maybe even start up at the East Bay Bikeway and work your way down to Narragansett to add some miles. The O'Neill Bikeway ends at the Kingston AMTRAK station, which can shuttle you home, if that's your plan.
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Old 07-06-21, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Question was more if there are any inland possibilities that could also be worth doing.
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The possibilities are limitless.
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Old 07-06-21, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
The possibilities are limitless.
I don't know about you, but I've certainly had a few "not going this way again" experiences, at least one where I'd done some research but not enough.

I've also had rides that were essentially non-issue compared to what I'd been lead to believe.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
I don't know about you, but I've certainly had a few "not going this way again" experiences, at least one where I'd done some research but not enough.

I've also had rides that were essentially non-issue compared to what I'd been lead to believe.
No, I get your need for advice and whatever experiences folks have. Theres a member on the forum - Zipp2001, posts a lot about road rides in N central Mass., maybe PM him and pick his brain about that area. Ive ridden a lot in the central VT area so recall what routes in that area are OK (all of them, pretty much). Papa Tom knows the CT coast very well,

Hard to give specific advice though without knowing where you want to start and finish. We all presume it'll be on your uni, amazing as that is, and would if given a chance, ride trails of some kind. Not many of those crossing E to W though, but I suspect you know that already.
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Old 07-06-21, 03:01 PM
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It's not as uniquely personal a question as it's being made out to be, I mean, sure I don't do well on extreme grades and am traffic cautious, but the reality is I do a lot of routes most who don't categorize themselves as serious road cyclists won't. In a sense, it's a more general form of the current Albany to NH with kids question.

Geographically, the CT coastline is a possibility I'm aware of, and additionally easy to access. Something just a few miles inland isn't obviously advantageous, though it happens I've explored a lot inland (good and bad) in the corner between the Thames and the RI line.

Something across CT further up, would be quite interesting - someday I'll try the air line though a Southeast Hartford-New London would be of more use than that northeast fragment of an NY-Boston train. Particularly interesting would be anything linking from the Farmington Canal west to NY's East-of-Hudson system that didn't go through the NYC metro area. Something I've been meaning to research more is Simsbury around the mountain to Hartford, with vague sights on Hop River and Air line or finding a way to parallel rt 2 to towards New London.

I'm relatively aware that little exists at a mid-Massachusetts lattitude, though if there's something I'm missing perpendicular to my countless CT river valley road rides...

I don't think it will happen this summer beyond an out-and-back from a parking lot, but anything through the White Mountains along the NH/ME line is interesting. Ironically my longest early-adulthood ride before I stopped cycling for 15 years was in the lakes region, its perhaps 15 miles now feels laughable but might try to head there again someday.

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Old 07-06-21, 04:09 PM
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Consider across Conn. You could AMTRAK to Rhode Island, then head west, end up in Danbury and catch the CT/MTA Transit back to Grand Central. Not as hilly as the Berkshires or Vermont and easier to access.
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Old 07-06-21, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Consider across Conn
Across CT on which road?

As mentioned several times, the coastal route (apart from the NYC area) is already on my list of near-term ideas.

Did you have something else in mind, for example that would reach Danbury, since you mentioned that, and since it's just six miles from NY's east-of-hudson trails?

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Old 07-06-21, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Across CT on which road?
As mentioned several times, the coastal route (apart from the NYC area) is already on my list of near-term ideas.
Did you have something else in mind, for example that would reach Danbury, since you mentioned that, and since it's just six miles from NY's east-of-hudson trails?​​​​​
I've taken several trips across part of CT but not in the last 20 years or so, preferring to go further away from the megalopolis if I've got the time. Coming from Long Island, we would ride 35ish miles to the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport ferry and go to New London from Bridgeport. Only once did we hug the coast and we never did it again; very urban with urban traffic especially in New Haven; which was not what we were looking for. We would ride west toward Fairfield, then north; Black Rock Tpke was one of the roads but my memory is not more specific. We would gradually turn to the east on back roads that were hilly but generally pleasant and low traffic. I do remember crossing the Housatonic north of Shelton. On one ride we were as far north as Waterbury and Cromwell where we spent the night a couple of times. I also remember crossing the Connecticut River on the ferry at Chester. We would come back to the coast and take the New London ferry back to Orient on Long Island and ride home from there. I wish I could be more specific; as you noted east-west routes are not so numerous. I have to say the thought of doing any of this on a unicycle is damned impressive.

I'd check out routes that have been uploaded by other riders on RideWithGPS.
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Old 07-07-21, 04:36 AM
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I can only speak to the Vermont options. As others point out the mountains are why East-West routes without too much climbing are limited. Because of that, In Vermont, at least, they’re relatively busy with lots of truck traffic. Route 2, especially, is a bear in places - with little to no shoulder.

Check out the Cross Vermont Trail. It utilizes quieter roads, rail trails, some gravel and, yes, parts of Route 2, without a lot of climbing:

Cross Vermont Trail Association - Home Page

Route 9 in Vermont is pretty busy (by VT standards). I haven’t ridden it but my impression from driving it is that it’s better than Route 2.
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Old 07-07-21, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe View Post
I'd check out routes that have been uploaded by other riders on RideWithGPS.
Good idea, I've been underutilizing their search.

After a bit of figuring out one thing that turned up was a lot of recordings of a Foxwoods to Danbury leg of Boston-NY charity ride that's presenting some possibilities to split. I have my own experiences of a lot of great roads east of the Thames (though there was the day where I kept accidentally ending up at Foxwoods), but the New London to New Haven portion joins a few other routings for that I need to compare in detail.

What's really grabbing my interest though is the New Haven - Danbury. It looks to have two abrupt climbs I need to identify but a New Haven via Danbury to Brewster to Poughkeepsie would both tie together past distance rides and mean I finally get to try the new part of the Maybrook. Key thing there will finding an affordable midpoint overnight as even if the distance were theoretically possible I hesitate to do a personal limits ride on untried route far from support, and train schedules are limiting. No later evening options from Poughkeepsie and even getting off a train at 7:30 am in New Haven wastes two hours I'd need to be riding if I were trying for more than 80 miles. The really gutsy move would be to continue to Albany on an additional day or two - too bad the MA split of the Lake Shore Limited seems not to have a baggage car.

Hmm, if I ever got a chance at a lift west, and then do it southbound taking advantage of increasing bailout opportunities on commuter trains at Poughkeepsie, Brewster, and Danbury? I need to fight my way back to the ability to do consecutive 50's or 60's I was tentatively building in the mild weather of February and March '20.

Tried to price one way car rentals to Albany but just getting "sold out" for the next few months. Of course what that really does is make finding a route west to Albany more interesting, as then there'd be a grand loop since the canal trail presents a way from New Haven back to MA.

Originally Posted by Greenhil View Post
Check out the Cross Vermont Trail. It utilizes quieter roads, rail trails, some gravel and, yes, parts of Route 2, without a lot of climbing:

Cross Vermont Trail Association - Home Page
That's interesting! I'm driving north on 91 later in the summer and had thoughts of stopping to do a bit of the Ammonoosuc rail trail (probably part further east), seems this is almost connecting running in the other direction.

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Old 07-07-21, 11:22 AM
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Be aware the Ammonoosuc Rail Trail is rough going, because it’s also an ATV trail. I’ve ridden it’s length and agree with the reviews here:

https://www.traillink.com/trail/ammonoosuc-rail-trail/

the 57 mile long Northern Rail Trail further S. In New Hampshire is nice.
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Old 07-07-21, 02:18 PM
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Just playing around, came up with this. It starts in Kingston, R.I.(Amtrak access), goes 126 miles to Danbury (MTA access). All 2 lane roads as far as I can tell plus 2 sections of bike paths. I would check the whole thing thru Google Maps before using it, I did not do that. I used the Cycling routing of RWGPS, which normally re-routes off roads that might be inappropriate to bikes. A stopping point might be Middletown, CT., which might then involve detours to get to a hotel, restaurant, etc...

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36687867
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Old 07-07-21, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Just playing around, came up with this.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36687867
Thanks, though the elevation tab there is... sobering, kind of like when I set out to get my kicks on MA 66.

The total climb isn't that much higher than the coastal route to New Haven and then up to Sandy Hook from where they're similar, but having just a few major efforts and a lot of minor grades is more my style.

One thing this whole discussion is driving home is the huge difference between "how about I ride thataway and turn around if it doesn't work" vs, "I don't get to rest my head until I make it to X" and the degree of adventuresomeness near a base vs. caution on a trip that follows.
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Old 07-08-21, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Thanks, though the elevation tab there is... sobering, kind of like when I set out to get my kicks on MA 66.

The total climb isn't that much higher than the coastal route to New Haven and then up to Sandy Hook from where they're similar, but having just a few major efforts and a lot of minor grades is more my style.

One thing this whole discussion is driving home is the huge difference between "how about I ride thataway and turn around if it doesn't work" vs, "I don't get to rest my head until I make it to X" and the degree of adventuresomeness near a base vs. caution on a trip that follows.
As we assume you are wanting to do this ride on your uni-cycle, its hard to make recommendations for anyplace flat, in NE. Not sure how flexible you are as to destination, but as you are good at already, I'd be sticking to rail-trails as they have the least elevation gradients.

Erie Canal ?, GAP ?,
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Old 07-08-21, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
its hard to make recommendations for anyplace flat, in NE.
Please see the first sentence of the first post.

I've found many road rides that are moderate (not flat) in terms of climbing and traffic.

Most of those are more north south, and it's easy to understand why geographically. But it's not exclusively true that there are no possibilities the other way.

Since you mentioned rail trails, yes, they manage to stay with 1% (except post-rail detours) because of engineering, but the routes they take are largely reflective of terrain - they'd still be decent routes if a railroad hadn't filled thirty feet here and cut ten there, too. What railroad surveyors did was identified the good opportunities in the terrain, the lower passes through the hills where the various river valleys partially intersect. The Putnam and I believe Maybrook routes are good examples - they wind to an extreme through the hills, but apart from a few river/ravine bridges such as roads also use, you're not usually much above or below the natural elevation.

A cyclist can benefit from doing the same kind or routing, without being confined to the places where there once was a railroad that's now become a trail.

So for example, one could do Avon/Simsbury to Hartford over Talcott mountain on route 44, or one could take 185 the way the ECG does, yielding lower and gentler climb through a partial pass, or like the (non-trail) railroad branch one could go up to where the Farmington river cuts through and identify the best of the adjacent roads.

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Old 07-08-21, 06:00 PM
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OK, hows this:

"Are there any good east west cycling routes in New England, in terms of traffic proximity and keeping climb total/grade moderate? "

No
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Old 07-09-21, 05:24 PM
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As a counterpoint to Steve B. "Yes."
The Cross Vermont Trail runs from Burlington to Waits River. That is about 90 miles across the width of Vermont. It follows, largely, rail trails, ad going through Groton State Park. When it gets to Waits River, on the banks of the Connecticut River, there is an easily ridden bridge that takes you into Woodsville, New Hampshire, the Western terminus of the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail (XNHAT) which follows, mostly, rail trails across New Hampshire for about 80 miles to Bethel Maine. Both have web sites and offer maps and cue sheets. If time and desire coincide, you could start at one end and ride across two states with minimal change in elevation. There are motels, inns, campgrounds, and stealth camping opportunities along both trails. I have ridden both if you have further questions.
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Old 07-09-21, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
As a counterpoint to Steve B. "Yes."
The Cross Vermont Trail runs from Burlington to Waits River. That is about 90 miles across the width of Vermont. It follows, largely, rail trails, ad going through Groton State Park. When it gets to Waits River, on the banks of the Connecticut River, there is an easily ridden bridge that takes you into Woodsville, New Hampshire, the Western terminus of the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail (XNHAT) which follows, mostly, rail trails across New Hampshire for about 80 miles to Bethel Maine. Both have web sites and offer maps and cue sheets. If time and desire coincide, you could start at one end and ride across two states with minimal change in elevation. There are motels, inns, campgrounds, and stealth camping opportunities along both trails. I have ridden both if you have further questions.
Nice info., good to know, Thx
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Old 07-17-21, 02:05 PM
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Hi Chris, I have been on US 20 from Springfield to Sturbridge and it is the easiest way between the Ct. valley and the Quinnebaug, It's only sketchy going through commercial centers, there is a trail that starts in Brimfield and runs to Sturbridge from there I follow the river down to the Airline north and go east to Ma or west to Willimantic. The trails of Eastern Ct.are mostly dirt pretty smooth except for the northern sections above Rt6 you need knobby tires Airline north connects to the SNETT and goes to Blackstone Ma and then across the river it goes east to Franklin Ma. The Airline south from Willimantic to Portland Ct, is smooth dirt except for a few miles around Willimantic that are paved, The way I go from Hartford east is the Charter Oak Greenway(paved) to the Hop River trail down to Willimantic where you can start going NE or SW on the Airline.Crossing the ridges on 6 all the way to Providence is a *****. I just did it Thursday. Most of the easy routes are the US numbered, the smaller roads have less traffic and bigger hills. If you wanted to connect to the coast from Willimantic you can go down Ct 32S to Ct 207E to 138E and into RI or go south Ct 49 to Stonington/ Westerly not bad hills.
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